FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JOHNSON IN SIXTH STRAIGHT KEYSTONE NATIONALS FINAL W.J. Qualifies Number One, Runs Five 6-Second Passes in Runner-Up Finish Reading, Penn. -- A string of five 6-second runs ...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JOHNSON IN SIXTH STRAIGHT KEYSTONE NATIONALS FINAL
W.J. Qualifies Number One, Runs Five 6-Second Passes in Runner-Up Finish
Reading, Penn. -- A string of five 6-second runs propelled Warren Johnson to the final round of the Keystone Nationals for the sixth straight year. Johnson had to settle for a runner-up finish -- the 37th of his career -- when a broken transmission decided the outcome in his final-round match with archrival Jim Yates.
"Sixes were on sale at Maple Grove Raceway, and we needed just one more," Warren reported. "The transmission broke during the burnout; I could hear the gears crunching around inside the case when I put it in third gear. I still had fourth and fifth, so I finished the water burnout and staged. I was hoping that Yates would get rattled at the starting line and make a mistake, but obviously that didn't happen."
Johnson qualified his GM Performance Parts Firebird on the Pro Stock "pole" at 6.984/197.02 -- his sixth No. 1 qualifying spot of the season and the 80th of his career -- to lead the fastest Pro Stock field in NHRA history.
W.J. continued his six-second streak in eliminations, defeating Danny Coffman with a 6.978, Billy Huff with a 6.984, and Steve Schmidt with a 6.973 to advance to his 96th final round. Yates, who had set the NHRA national e.t. record at 6.947 seconds in the semi-final round, ran 6.957/197.45 in the final while Warren coasted across the finish line at 82 mph.
"We're starting to worry because this breakage started at the back, and it's slowly working its way forward -- I hope it doesn't infect the engines!" Johnson joked after being sidelined by mechanical failures in three of the last four events.
"The barometric pressure at Maple Grove was lower than last year, but the track was significantly stickier," added W.J., who has now run 19 of the 33 6-second Pro Stock passes in NHRA national event competition.
With three races remaining on the NHRA calendar, Johnson now trails Yates by 168 points. With 414 points on the table in the next three events, W.J. is still alive in the championship chase. "We'll just go to Topeka (site of the Craftsman Nationals on September 27-29) and do whatever it takes," said the unflappable "Professor of Pro Stock."
NHRA PRO STOCK STANDINGS (after 16 of 19 rounds): 1. Jim Yates 1414 2. WARREN JOHNSON 1246 3. Mike Edwards 922 4. Steve Schmidt 846 5. Chuck Harris 838 6. Kurt Johnson 830
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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 17-Sep-1996